Julia Hall Chesser Martine

September 7, 1930 - November 12, 2023

Julia Hall Chesser Martine, who was a longtime resident of Richmond, Virginia, passed away peacefully on Sunday morning, November 12, 2023, in the company of her daughters at her home at The Colonnades community in Charlottesville, Virginia. She was the daughter of the late Colonel Page P. A. Chesser, U.S. Army, Retired, Doctor of Dental Surgery, and the late Lucille Crim Chesser, of Philippi, West Virginia. Known to her friends as Judy, she led a life full of purpose with a personal disposition that was always on the sunny side of the street.

She was born on September 7, 1930 at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Being an Army brat, Judy attended schools wherever her father was posted; she also attended Stuart Hall Boarding School in Staunton, Virginia for high school. Upon graduating, she attended University of Maryland at College Park to pursue a degree in Elementary Education. While there, she enjoyed participating in their theater productions as a set and costume designer. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority where she forged lifelong friendships. She was always the belle of the ball and was chosen as a Sweetheart of Sigma Chi fraternity. Judy graduated with the class of 1952.

Judy married Roy R. Martine and together they had three children. In Richmond, while her children were young, she was active in numerous volunteer activities. At Christmastime, she painted winter scenes on storefront windows in the Village Shopping Center and through her involvement in her junior woman’s club, she was instrumental in organizing a production of Stocks and Blondes and even transformed from a brunette to a blonde to help a worthy cause. Additionally, she was a member of the PEO Sisterhood. Once her children started school, she began a career as an elementary school teacher in the Henrico County school system while also pursuing a Masters in Education at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Among her favorite passions, aside from convertible cars, was travel. As the child of a military officer dispatched regularly by his commanders to set up new Army Dental Clinics in various locations, she told stories years later of times spent in the places she lived. These included Hawaii’s Schofield Barracks, where barefoot days on the beach were the norm. Then came homes in Cape Cod, Aberdeen, Maryland, on the Chesapeake Bay, Fort Benning, Georgia and Fort Totten on Long Island, New York. Her more vivid memories were of overseas trips with her parents to exotic places like India, Japan, China, Burma, Egypt and Europe. Having summers off as a teacher, it afforded Judy the luxury of traveling once again, often with her mother and children. One memorable trip to Europe, according to her children, could have served as a template for Chevy Chase’s film European Vacation.

As her family grew in number, she became a beloved “Gaga” to each of her seven grandchildren. Judy was an essential presence in their lives, never missing a Grandparents’ Day, a performance, an athletic event or a graduation. Having a swimming pool at her home, summertime visits among the cousins became known as “Camp GaGa” adventures. When sharing stories of her own adolescence with her grandchildren, her recounted life experiences could, on occasion, take on an almost Forest Gump-like quality about people she had known by happenstance. For instance, the towering 7’ tall eighth grade boy who was her first boyfriend in West Virginia went on to become an actor, playing the role of “Lurch” in the popular television show, The Addams Family, of the early 60’s.

Judy was a gracious and multi-faceted woman who would make a guest feel at home and welcome whether they had known her for one minute or a lifetime. She was fun loving, at times a bit mischievous, with a great sense of humor. Judy’s artistic avocation stayed with her long after her art degree minor at Maryland. She had an artist’s eye and her stroke of a paintbrush on canvas responded accordingly. She could prepare a holiday feast with delicious southern comfort food, then breathlessly exclaim once seated “oops, the spoonbread was still in the oven.”

Judy was a lady of special beauty and grace. Gaga will be missed without question, but the positive mark made on her family was indelible. She is survived by her children, Peggy M. Zunka (John) of Charlottesville, Virginia, James C. Martine of Richmond, Virginia, and Jacqueline M. Locke (Tim) of Alexandria, Virginia. Her grandchildren are Jennifer Z. Hawks (Joel) of Richmond, Virginia, James C. Zunka of Charlottesville, Virginia, Jack P. Zunka (Brooke) of Corvallis, Oregon, Megan L. Martine and W. Chess Martine, both of Richmond, Virginia, Connor L. Locke (Madeline) of Washington, D.C., Dudley T. Locke (Jane) of Denver, Colorado. Seven great grandchildren, Lucie, Olive, Nellie, Kiri, Harper, Graham and Lindsey, who will go forward in life with her generous spirit, round out Judy’s family tree.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Condolences may be shared with the family on the Tribute Wall.